Girardet and Müller’s “Phoenix Tapes”

Müller was already an award-winning filmmaker by the time he began working on his collaboration piece with Girardet, “The Phoenix Tapes,” which would be released in 2000.  The pair worked very well together, and would release ten more collaborative films by 2011.  The “Phoenix Tapes” is a series of six films, each focusing on compiled snippets of different Hitchcock motifs.  The first tape, “Rutland,” focuses on Hitchcock settings such as spaces inside houses, urban street scenes, landmarks (ex: the Golden Gate Bridge in Vertigo), and empty, eerie landscapes.  The second tape, “#2- Burden of Proof,” focuses on more material Hitchcock images, such as keys, rings, monograms, weapons, and notes.  These objects are all plot advancers in Hitchcock’s films, and illustrate the violence and treachery that follows the peace and beauty of part one.  Hitchcock’s fascination with the human psyche and Freudian psychology is highlighted in part 3, “Derailed,” which shows clips of restless sleepers, trains, carousels, and scared children.  The classic Hitchcockian depiction of odd or overbearing mother-son relationships (and in the case of Marnie, a mother-daughter relationship) is shown through clips in “#4- Why Don’t You Love Me?”  In the fifth installment of “The Phoenix Tapes,” “Bedroom,” relationships between men and women in bedrooms are shown, which include both scenes of harmonious pleasure, and  scenes of disturbing force and violence.  The last tape, “#6- Necrologue” shows images of people in various states of death and sleep.  By showing similar shots and subjects from various Hitchcock films in close succession, Muller and Girardet were able to explore and visually explain how Hitchcock made his films so instantaneously recognizable.  Repeated images and and similar cinematography echoes throughout all the film clips.  The two filmmakers also created a work of art in their own right, taking the viewers of “The Phoenix Tapes” on an emotional roller coaster of enjoyment and fear alongside appreciation of the visual composition of the film clips.



“Phoenix Tapes (Christoph Girardet and Matthias Muller, 1999).” Make Mine Criterion. 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.

Elsaesser, Thomas. “Phoenix Tapes.” Thomas Elsaesser. 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.

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